Several years ago, plant scientists discovered a genetic mutation that caused the tomato to ripen evenly, instead of leaving a greenish-yellow top on an otherwise ripe tomato. Since consumers in supermarkets preferred a fully red tomato to one with a yellowish top, the mutated plants were propagated and even though the tomatoes were picked green, they ripened evenly, producing a lovely fully red ripe tomato.
However, there was a slight problem with this otherwise brilliant solution. They weren’t as sweet as yellow-topped (non-mutated) tomatoes. In fact, they were pretty bland. Beautiful, but bland. Seems that gene controlling the yellow top had something to do with flavour.
This is an excellent example of what I will call a “brilliant solution with unintended consequences”. Military “drones” (UAVs) are another excellent example where the solution, a precision strike, often has the unintended consequences of civilian collateral damage. And culture change programs are a third example!
Most executives don’t understand the unintended consequences that result from a culture change programme that fails, and many culture change efforts just don’t deliver the intended benefits. But, like a UAV, they do deliver something – unintended consequences.
(Note: this excerpt was taken from my forthcoming book: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture, due to be released before the end of the year by Rapid Lightning Press, London.)
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress